It’s not easy to find Cuban cuisine in rural areas, but Iris Atkinson and John Atkinson changed that narrative when they opened Fulton Café in the Brick District of Fulton in 2008.
Iris Atkinson likes to describe her cafe as a “little tiny hole in the wall” with only three employees, including her and her husband. She believes the size of the cafe does not equal the amount of character it has.
It is one of the few places in central Missouri to offer authentic Cuban cuisine. Iris and her family are of Cuban heritage, and all of the recipes that have been passed down are authentically Cuban.
The Atkinsons love attracting new visitors and believe their cafe is a must-see for tourists.
“We attract quite a few tourists, especially from the Lake of the Ozarks, because our food is authentic from our Cuban cookbook, which is hard to find in this part of Missouri.” Iris Atkinson said.
The bestsellers on the menu are the Cuban sandwich, the shredded beef-ropa vieja and the beef stew-carne con papas, she said.
The cafe also offers specialty Cuban coffees such as cafe con leche, cortadito and colada.
The cafe has won a number of culinary awards, including the 2020 Missouri Life Magazine Discover the Best Winner Destination Restaurant, the 2020 Feast Awards Reader’s Choice Runner Up Local Favorite and most recently, the 2021 Rural Missouri Reader’s Choice Runner Up.
The restaurant itself is quaint, with wood floors and walls. There are typically seven to eight small tables in the dining room for guests, but there can be up to 10 if more seating is needed.
“I believe our cafe is adorable because of its size, and we like to keep it family oriented so we do not serve alcohol.” Atkinson said.
Since the cafe has few employees, it is only open for three hours Monday through Friday. The Atkinsons say they keep the hours short so they can spend time with their family members and not be consumed with work.
The Atkinsons believe in the authenticity of their food and say they are always looking to improve. According to multiple online reviews, Fulton Café has great ambience, delicious food and excellent customer service.